Drive Across Country

See the country by road.

Driving across the country is an American rite of passage, and can be an incredible experience. It is essential, however, that you make the necessary preparations to allow for a safe and worry-free trip. There is no substitute for seeing the country mile-by-mile with your own eyes, and taking in the Midwest’s farms, the Mississippi River or the state parks in the Northwest. These are sights that no plane ride or photograph can do justice to.


1. Have your car fully serviced and checked before you leave for your trip. Schedule the appointment at least a week before you leave so that you have time to get any necessary repairs done. Make sure you have an oil change and that you fill up washer and other fluids.

2. Obtain or renew a roadside assistance membership. Since unexpected accidents or breakdowns are always possible, it is essential that you be prepared. Additionally, these memberships, such as AAA, often give you discounts on lodging.

3. Use the atlas to research the best roadways before you leave. Choose the route that best suits your travel interests and needs. Highlight the route on each state map.

4. Call your relatives and friends who live along your planned route to ask if you might stay with them on certain dates. Write their name, the date you will stay with them, their address and their phone number in your notebook. Once you are on the road, call them the day before you will arrive to confirm your stay.

5. Consult your guidebook for places to stay along your route before you leave on your trip. Circle the ones that look best, and call them ahead of time to see if they have vacancy. Reserve at least a few of the hotels or campsites before you leave for your trip so that you have a few definite destinations. Reserve your other lodging as you go, but call at least a day in advance to book.

6. Determine how much ground you want to cover each day, but be sure to allot time for sight-seeing and visiting with friends or family. Committing to a certain number of driving hours per day can help regularize your trip.